You know those times when your marriage is happy and smooth sailing, all sunshine and rainbows, when you and your husband are just so in-sync with each other that you never argue, always finish each others sentences and lovingly serve each other without any hesitation. Nope, me neither. Because honesty. And because real life isn’t like the movies, two humans co-existing is hard work. Totally worth it. But hard work.
Now I am in no way a marriage expert (unless you define expert as ‘one who has tried many creative ways to damage your relationship’, in which case I guess I am an expert). But in nearly 13 years of marriage (which includes 2 years of being separated, story for another day) I have learnt some things about what my marriage does need. From me. Because one of the things I have discovered is that the only person in this relationship whose attitudes and behaviour I can actually change is mine. Now don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I will just willingly accept all of his behaviours and attitudes as a done-deal. I will speak up when he hurts me (because he will, because he’s human), I will communicate my needs to him (sometimes in a healthy way, sometimes there is a lot of crying and screaming involved), and if his behaviour is damaging I will take steps to have healthy boundaries to protect myself, but at the end of the day, my behaviour and attitudes are the only things I can actually control.
So my ‘5 things a marriage needs to thrive’ are all about ways that I pray God will grow and change me. But they’re about him too. Because really, to grow in relationship and maturity, both of us need to be growing and seeking to become more Christ-like. There are no free rides if you want your marriage to thrive.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12
I need to be willing to acknowledge when I’m wrong. And apologise.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
I need to be willing to forgive him when he gets it wrong. And let it go.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10
I need to be willing to put his needs ahead of mine, to choose him first.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6
I need to learn to sometimes keep my mouth shut until I have actually heard what is being said and taken time to process it.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
I need to remember that conflict in marriage is part of a bigger story of spiritual warfare and our sin-nature. I need to choose to fight with him for our marriage, rather than against him for my own perceived gains (because it’s never really a gain, ultimately we both lose when we stay in conflict).
As a side note, recently there have been a few occasions where I have been somewhat passionately upset about something and he has cracked the giggles (he does that a bit, laughing when I would like him to take something seriously)! Needless to say that generally doesn’t go down very well, but if I step into a little humility (see above) I’ll admit that it does bring a bit of perspective, probably whatever it is I’m upset about is not actually as big a deal as I’m making it out to be. We are on the same team after all.
If you’re anything like me and need a constant visual reminder to focus on, you can download a free printable here.
I know there are many more things we could focus on to bring growth and maturity to our marriage, but for me, right now, this is where my focus is and how I’m praying. If you’re married, or soon to be, will you join me?